Jonnie Marbles (aka Jonnie May-Bowles), 26, who attempted to throw a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch at the House of Commons culture committee on July 19th, had pleaded guilty to common assault and was today sentenced to six weeks imprisonment of which he will serve three, and ordered to pay a fine of £250 plus £15 ‘victim surcharge’. Murdoch had not wanted to press charges, but the court proceeded anyway.
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District Judge Daphne Wickham, who sentenced Jonnie, is the same person who let Sgt Delroy Smellie off the hook for assaulting Nicola Fisher at the G20 protest in 2009, despite YouTube footage of the officer striking at Fisher with his hand and a baton.
Jonnie’s excessive sentence for a prank that hurt no one, committed by someone with no criminal record, against a man whose media empire has ruined lives, is yet more evidence of government crackdown on dissent. The decision to proceed with the case and to punish Jonnie for essentially embarrassing Parliament’s security arrangements, and for rightly pointing out what a mockery the Murdoch hearing was, is on a continuum with recent incredibly punitive sentences handed down to protesters on student protests, union demos and other actions, as well as with the Met’s attempt to get people to turn anarchists into the police (now vaguely retracted).
It is clear the police, the courts and the government are severely rattled by individuals and groups expressing their opposition to government policy and to corruption at the highest levels, as recently and spectacularly revealed in the case of News International’s ties to police, press and government in the hacking scandal. The information gathering explicitly carried out by police on protesters, students, members of UK Uncut and squatters is further evidence that the government are increasingly using the category of ‘domestic extremist’ to tarnish anyone voicing their opposition to government policies (for more information on the ongoing attempt to criminalise squatting see the SQUASH campaign website).
DTRTP extends their solidarity to Jonnie Marbles and with all other protesters recently charged and sentenced: end political policing and sentencing NOW – as @copwatcher puts it: ‘Six weeks in prison for breach of the peace and common assault is vengeance, not justice’.
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